Vermont 'totally devoted' to personalized learning initiative

The Vermont Agency of Education is “totally devoted” to implementing personalized learning in school districts across the state, Sigrid Olson, a personalized learning coordinator at the agency, tells EdScoop TV in a newly released video.

Some schools in Vermont have been using a personalized learning approach for 20 years, but the passage of a state law called Act 77 “really provided an impetus for schools to start implementing personalized learning,” Olson says. “[It] has really shifted the scope of education, the dialogue about education in Vermont.”

The law takes into consideration that every school is starting at a different place; it allows for flexibility and offers a range of options for schools to choose from. For example, some school leaders start by developing and enforcing personalized learning plans, while others establish early-morning programs that students can attend to start thinking about their interests before creating an individualized plan, Olson says.

“In Vermont, one of the great things about the way our education system is set up is that there is that freedom for schools and supervisor unions to approach personalized learning in these different ways,” she says.

In fall 2017, the Vermont Agency of Education hosted a number of edtech companies that are focused on personalized learning. During a daylong session, company representatives had a chance to meet educators throughout the state and explain what they do and how their company’s platform works.

It was one of many professional development opportunities Vermont offers its educators — an effort to show “how all of these different initiatives fit together to create a system of personalized learning for students,” Olson says.

In the year ahead, she says she will be thinking about and looking into the ways educators can use adaptive technology — like adaptive assessments and adaptive curriculum — to personalize the learning experience for each student in Vermont.

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